The Faces of Central America

From Belize all the way down to the Darien Jungle, Central America is full of colourful and interesting people. The beauty of Central America is the diversity in background. Yes most people look at the region and think it to be entirely “Latino” but the truth is that there is so much more at work than that. Along the Caribbean Coast of Central America, in places like Belize, the Honduran Islands and Coastal Panama, the population is made up in large part from African descendants, many of which speak English and Creole first. In the highlands of Guatemala and Honduras the population is almost entirely indigenous made up of a mix of different backgrounds, but primarily Maya. Throughout the region there is also an influx of Asian, Middle Eastern and, of course, European people. This diversity in backgrounds is what make the faces of Central America so interesting.

I have compiled a photo essay on the faces of Central America. My photography goal for my quick trip across Central America was to begin doing more portrait and people photography. At the same time, I wanted my images to look raw and unplanned. I wanted the images to have a little bit more life that usual. At the end of the day, I wish I had spent a little bit more time on the project, and I wish I had a little bit more courage to ask people for photos, but I am really happy with a couple of the images, and I hope you enjoy them.

Faces of Central America

The first portrait I took on my trip might have been the best one. Man in Belize.

Belize Woman

I bought a bracelet for friend from this lady on Caye Caulker, Belize

Guatamalan Lady

This lady sold me an alarm clock for 1US$. It still works.

Guatamalan Girl

A girl confused by my camera.

Flower vendor

A flower vendor at the Chichicastenango Market covering her head from the sun.

Young maya girl

A young Maya girl. Let me take a picture because I was nice to their dog.

Grandma maya

The young girl’s aunt.

Girl and Aunt

The girl and her aunt

Young maya girl

This was probably the most friendly girl in the world. She was selling honey coated peanuts (how could I resist), but stuck around to chat for a while.

San Blas Woman

A woman from the San Blas Islands in Puerto Obaldia, Panama


The faces don’t have to be people. A stone carving at the Copan Ruins.

Spider Monkey

Nothing like a monkey face in Nicaragua

Colombian Lady

This lady was hillarious, wanted me to take sexy photos of her to put on a dating website to find a white husband… then told me not to tell her husband her plan.


These girls, just on the Colombian side of the border with Panama, told me they wanted me to take their picture so they can become Ms. Colombia someday.

Colombian Profile

This girl told me to mail her this picture… but didn’t know her own address.

Colombian kids

These two guys ran all over town trying to get my attention for photos. Ok guys, here’s your moment in the limelight.

Colombian Kid

What a poser.

Colombian Kids

This girl wanted me to take a picture of her little cousin… cute.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. Brendan, you’ve really captured the spirit of the people of Central America! Beautiful!

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    • @Peggy – Thanks so much Peggy.

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    • @Dani – Thanks Dani, my favourited is the first… but the last one’s fun too!

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  2. These are wonderful, Brandon. You should be very proud. I especially love the pictures of the children. The last one of the girl with her baby cousin is absolutely adorable!

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    • @Jenna – Thanks, I’m glad you liked them!

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  3. What a gift Brendan! I’m travelling through CA in a few weeks and these photos have made me even more excited (which I didn’t think was possible haha). Really really cool!

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  4. So many smiles! I love it. My favorite is the honey coated peanuts gal with the flakes all over her mouth 🙂

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    • Thanks Greg, yeah that girl was perfect for photos… such an act. haha

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  5. Oh these are some awesome photos… Ahh CENTRAL AMERICA how I LOVE THE!!!

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  6. Dude, these are some great pics! My favourite is the candid shot – ‘A flower vendor.’

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    • @sam – yeah, that’s one of my favourites as well. Thanks!

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  7. Wow, these photos are amazing. I’ve spent the past few winters visiting Central America — just a week here and there — but I’m always ready to go back and these photos really light that fire.

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    • @Erin – It has a way of always drawing you back doesn’t it?

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    • @Juno – Thanks so much!

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  8. I remember seeing that Belizean guy on Caye Caulker. I love his crazy hair! My other favorite is “The girl and her aunt” doing their embroidery. They are doing beautiful work!

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